Droga5 Brought Some Wild Tech Bells and Whistles to This Interactive Hennessy Site

Mirroring the craft of making a bottle of V.S.O.P Privilège

Headshot of Tim Nudd

Some of the best marketing embodies the brand promise you're trying to communicate. This is especially true of well-crafted products, whose advertising had better be well-crafted, too. Droga5 takes that idea to impressive lengths with a new interactive site for Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège (the agency's first work for this particular Hennessy brand).

V.S.O.P Privilège is known for its remarkable consistency—it's precisely the same cognac in every glass and every bottle, year after year—despite myriad variables at play during its creation. So, Droga5 set out to tell this story of creating harmony from chaos through the digital experience.

"Harmony. Mastered from Chaos" is a responsive WebGL campaign microsite featuring an interactive film experience highlighting the complexity, mastery and tradition that goes into Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège. Among the advanced technologies it employs: 3-D LiDAR scanning, depth capture and binaural audio recording, merging with live-­action footage.

There's also a 60-second spot that's related to the interactive piece (above). We spoke with Droga5 executive interactive producer Justin Durazzo about the site.

AdFreak: Where did the idea come from to do an interactive site like this?

Justin Durazzo: When we first discussed a production approach for this project, we were very inspired about various technological techniques that could tell the story of harmony created from seemingly unrefined elements or components. We riffed on this using a musical soundscape as the basis for it all and building the rest of the experience around it. We explored worlds and ornate, organic visuals comprised of magnetic ferrofluids to help us envision this notion of particles breaking apart and coming together to form the perfect bottle of Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilége. And a rich, immersive website seemed to allow people the most opportunity to be hands on and explore these concepts while also allowing us to bring together live action photography, highly responsive WebGL graphics and dynamic audio that could change as users make different choices. We wanted to make people feel that notion of creating something from nothing or working with the ingredients you have carefully in order to create something complex and special.

There are some crazy technologies here. Can you explain how a few of them work, and do you have a favorite visual effect in the piece?

We employed the use of LiDAR and 3D Kinect scanning, as they all offer us a great deal of depth information with which we could recreate entire environments from Hennessy in Cognac, France. The point clouds created by these capture techniques are also very beautiful when rendered, and it was a look/feel we were aesthetically drawn to. We articulate them further using CG in post-production for film and WebGL for a fluid interactive experience that works seamlessly across most devices and browsers. The integration of all of these advanced technologies was a challenge we imparted upon ourselves in order to metaphorically speak to the challenge and craft of making Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilége.

What's the relationship between the film and the interactive site? Was one developed before the other, or both concurrently?

They are directly related, complementary and were developed in tandem. All of the film content also lives on the site in some way. The site is a longer format, interactive version of the same story we're telling in the :60, only it allows people to stop and further explore, play with things and get immediate tactile feedback for each 'chapter' in the Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilége production process. It allows you to become the creator so to speak – or at the very least gain a greater appreciation for what the experts at Hennessy in Cognac are doing year after year.

We also spoke via email to Droga5 copywriter Phil Hadad and art director Marybeth Ledesma, who also worked on the campaign.

AdFreak: Hennessy has developed such a rich visual language in its cinematic spots. How does this ad continue that tradition?

Phil Hadad and Marybeth Ledesma: Hennessy has a long history as a luxury brand and it sets the bar for everything we do visually. In this campaign, we're telling a centuries-old story of mastery and craftsmanship and we wanted to visualize it in a powerful, contemporary way. We also wanted the visual style to reinforce the concept of "Harmony. Mastered from Chaos." Blending cinematic live-action photography and high-tech video effects seemed like the perfect way to tell that story and swing between notions of chaos and harmony.

Can you describe the narrative of what's going on in the spot, and how it delivers a message about craftsmanship?

It's about mastery and the infinite variables that the experts at Hennessy overcome each year to create a cognac that's completely harmonious and consistent.

In the film and interactive experience, we take the audience to Cognac, France and move through the different stages of the Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège creation process. We see the vineyards and the weather conditions the winegrowers are up against. We see the complexity of the grapes, the distillation of the wine, the cooper who builds barrels by hand, the cellar where the spirits age, and finally the masters who blend and bring everything together.

The LiDAR and 3-D scans were used to represent the forces of entropy and variation that challenge these craftspeople along the way. But the real story is about how Hennessy overcomes these things through the craft and attention to detail that takes place at every juncture. Seeing that, you start to realize that these are people who live what they do. They're people with extraordinary skill sets that you can't find anywhere else in the world.

Which visuals are your favorites?

The opening shot of the vineyards is definitely one of our favorite visuals in the film. Vineyards are usually shown in a sunny, stock image kind of way. But here, we see storm clouds and lightning and an ominousness that sets up the theme of chaos right away.

The LiDAR scan of the distillery is a great visual too. There's a point in the film where a light sweeps through, highlighting all the copper stills. The distillery has never been portrayed in this way.

We're also really happy with the scenes from the cooperage, where they make the barrels by hand. The hammering, the flames and the splashing of the barrel perfectly encapsulate the ritual and the craftsmanship that we found at every stage of the Hennessy process.

Can you talk about the voice talent and the director, and what they brought to the table?

We worked with director Ben Tricklebank on the project, who also served as overseer of the interactive site and the entire project. We were filming, capturing 3-D data, scanning locations and separately recording audio of the Hennessy process all simultaneously, so we needed someone whose talents extended beyond just directing. Ben was perfect. Not only does he have an unbelievable eye as a filmmaker but he also understands what makes great interactive and how to keep the larger story in focus. He was so collaborative, so hands-on and filled with ideas throughout the process. Ben, Active Theory and Plan8 were incredible to work with.

We worked with Leslie Odom Jr. for the voiceover. He plays Aaron Burr in Broadway's Hamilton and is doing about eight shows a week, so the fact that we were able to get him was really incredible. He has a great voice, and his delivery elevated the story with just the right amount of elegance and modern edge. He was amazing. He stepped into the booth and immediately understood what we were going for. We recorded him on the Friday right before the Tony Awards where he won best actor.


Client Moët Hennessy USA

Product Hennessy V.S.O.P Privilège

Campaign "Harmony. Mastered From Chaos"

URL: MasteredFromChaos.com

Launch Date June 30th, 2016

Agency Droga5 NY

Creative Chairman David Droga

Chief Creative Officer Ted Royer

Creative Partner Duncan Marshall

Group Creative Director Nick Klinkert

Copywriter Phil Hadad

Art Director Marybeth Ledesma

Executive Design Director Rob Trostle

Associate Design Director Mark Yoon

UX Director Daniel Perlin

Chief Creation Officer Sally-Ann Dale

Head of Interactive Production Niklas Lindstrom

Executive Broadcast Producer Jesse Brihn

Executive Broadcast Producer Ruben Mercadal

Executive Interactive Producer Justin Durazzo

Interactive Producer Ian Graetzer

Interactive Producer Morgan Mendel

Integrated Production Business Manager Grant Thompson

Director of Integrated Production Business Affairs Dianne Richter

Head of Art Production Cliff Lewis

Executive Art Producer Julia Menassa

Print Producer James DePrima

Senior Retoucher John Ciambriello

Global Chief Strategy Officer Jonny Bauer

Group Strategy Director Aaron Wiggan

Strategy Director Elaine Purcell

Strategy Director Danielle Travers

Senior Communications Strategist Delphine McKinley

Senior Data Strategist Brad Mumbrue

Executive Group Director Steven Panariello

Account Director Kendra Schaaf

Account Manager Andrew DeMatos

Associate Account Manager Rebecca Warren

Project Manager Dean Farella

Client Mo ë t Hennessy USA

CMO & EVP of Brands, USA Rodney Williams

SVP, Hennessy, USA Giles Woodyer

SVP, Strategic Marketing, USA William Paretti

Brand Director, USA Richard McLeod

Global CMO, Hennessy Thomas Moradpour

Global Marketing Director, Hennessy VSOP Violaine Basse

Broadcast Production Company Tool of North America

Director/Interactive Director Ben Tricklebank

Director of Photography Justin Gurnari

Managing Partners Oliver Fuselier, Dustin Callif

Executive Producer Sarah DiLeo

Line Producer Kelly Christensen

Interactive Production Company Active Theory

Creative Director Andy Thelander

Technical Director Michael Anthony

Executive Producer Nick Mountford

Producer Annie Chen

Editorial Rock Paper Scissors

Editor Jamie Foord

Assistant Editor Jay McConville

Executive Producer Eve Kornblum

Head of Production Justin Kumpata

Producer Lisa Barnable

3D Scanning Company SCANable

CEO & Founder Travis Reinke

Post Production Blacksmith

VFX Supervisor Tom Bussell

CG Lead Artist Tom Bussell

CG FX Mike Dunkley

2D Lead Artists Iwan Zwarts, Daniel Morris

2D Artists Nick Tanner, Dan DiFelice

Executive Producer Charlotte Arnold

Producer Bomyee Hwang

FILM: Music and Sound Design Plan8

Executive Producer Tor Castensson, Calle Stenqvist

Creative Director Oscar Tillman

Composer Bali Harko

Composer / Sound Designer Karl-Johan Rasmark

INTERACTIVE: Music and Sound Design Plan8

Executive Producer Tor Castensson, Calle Stenqvist

Creative Director Oscar Tillman

Audio Developer Andreas Jeppsson

Lead Developer Rikard Lindstrom

Composer Bali Harko

Composer / Sound Designer Karl-Johan Rasmark

Mix Heard City

Mixers Phil Loeb, Dan Flosdorf

Executive Producer Sasha Awn

Producer Talia Rodgers

@nudd Tim Nudd is a former creative editor of Adweek.